Creation and Completion – Essential Points of Tantric Meditation by Jamgön Kongtrul
I have read Creation and Completion – Essential Points of Tantric Meditation by Jamgön Kongtrul, also known as Jamgön Kongtrul the Great, who lived between 1813 and 1899 CE. The best part of the book, at least from my perspective, is the valuable commentary by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Many older esoteric texts can be a bit hard to comprehend, especially since certain aspects of the them might be lost in translation. This is why the commentary is so appreciated.
Tibetan Buddhism and Deities
In the introduction, Sarah Harding notes that many Tibetan Buddhist spiritual practices center around various deities. This may come as a surprise to those who view Buddhism as a nontheistic religion. This is also why some other Buddhist schools have considered Tibetan Buddhism as corrupt and untrue to its original form. However, as Sarah Harding notes, these deity practices are deeply rooted in the very foundations of Buddhist thought. In my own humble opinion, a spirituality with a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses will always be more appealing than one without deities.
Transformation of Desire
Jamgön Kongtrul shares the following accessible technique for dealing with desire. I do not believe that any of my esteemed book-review readers are still under the yoke of pornography, but if you are – try to transform that desire into a deity (i.e. visualise a deity) the next time it comes to you!
‘The uncommon approach of mantra is to transform afflictive emotions.Jamgön Kongtrul – Creation and Completion . Page 37.
When the desire arises, you meditate on Amitabha
or a deity such as Heruka in union.
The desirous thought is transformed into the deity.
The other deluded emotions are treated in the same way.’
In the notes, the following is mentioned regarding the two deities mentioned above:
Amitabha: Boundless Light, the name of a buddha – the head of the lotus family – that is associated with the transformation of desire into the pristine wisdom of discernment.
Heruka: a general name for wrathful meditational deities, and also a name for Cakrasamvara or ‘Wheel of Sublime Bliss,’ one of the Tantric deities particularly associated with desire.
At the end of the text, Jamgön Kongtrul states the following. I thought it was a beautiful passage worth sharing:
‘At the request of the spiritual friend Karma Palden, an attendant of the fourteenth Omniscient Lord of the Victorious Ones (Karmapa), and whose mind is totally devoted to the definite meaning, I, Karma Ngawang Yönten Gyamtso, bearing merely the signs of a Buddhist monk, at the age of twenty-seven, gradually dictated this text, and he transcribed it. May it send forth glorious healing qualities for the doctrine and for beings. In all times and directions may glory prevail. May the glorious blaze of good fortune adorn the world. Virtue! Virtue!Jamgön Kongtrul – Creation and Completion . Page 81.
Confronting Fear – A Note on Batman
In the commentary section, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche talks about the teachings of Machig Labdron – a female Buddhist monk who lived between 1055 and 1149 CE. He notes that her approach is one of severance rather than pacification.
‘Rather than pacifying thoughts, you actually provoke the most difficult ones. In severance practice, you work especially with fear. You go to places where you feel unsafe, typically to charnel grounds. You trigger intense fear, and you cut through it.’Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
Reading this made me think of Christopher Nolan’s masterwork Batman – Batman Begins in particular, where Bruce Wayne is presented with his fears (bats) in a monastery in the Himalayas. I wonder if Nolan took inspiration from the teachings of Machig Labdron. Epic stuff in either case!
Tantras and Sutras
In the commentary, the following passage appears in regard to the Tantras and Sutras:
‘First of all, all of the Buddha’s teachings are included within two paths. They are the stable and gradual path of the sutras and the quick and especially effective path of the Vajrayana, or the tantras. Both of these take as their root the taming of the mind, or pacifying the thoughts and kleshas that afflict out minds’Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
He goes on to note that the Sutras teach rejection or abandonment of the kleshas – you must relinquish attachments. The Tantra approach, on the other hand, is one of transformation – transformation of desire into something pure. This is also the meaning of the title of the previous book I reviewed, Introduction to Tantra: The Transformation of Desire by Lama Yeshe (review).
At 153 pages and written in an accessible language, the book serves as a good further introduction to the topic. The book was a good follow-up to the aforementioned Introduction to Tantra: The Transformation of Desire by Lama Yeshe. I can recommend the book to anyone interested in Buddhism in general and Tantra in particular.
Onwards and upwards!